HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Kentucky — A group of Northern Kentucky University students has partnered with the Women's Crisis Center in Covington in an effort to fight human trafficking in the area.
The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/12QwVFF) reports the students are conducting surveys to document episodes of human trafficking. They are also holding educational events in order to spread awareness of the issue.
The students are part of the honors program class Place in Violence and are following up on a university research project last semester that looked at the extent of human trafficking in the area.
"So many people are shocked to hear that human trafficking happens here," said student Katy Miller. "We're really hoping to bring more awareness to this issue."
Miller, who helped with the research project, said she didn't expect the findings.
"I started looking into human trafficking and found all these things that were just shocking to me," Miller said. "I became very passionate about it and wanted to get involved."
Professor Belle Zembrodt, who helped with the research project and teaches the Place in Violence class, said many have a misconception of human trafficking. She said it can consist mainly of women and minors, with an average age of 12-14, being held against their will to perform commercial sex acts.
Miller research found 10 percent of local police officers had come across human trafficking that involved a minor.
She said the first step in fighting the problem is to educate others about it.
Zembrodt said there are laws to protect women and girls from human trafficking, but law enforcement officials need better training to recognize signs of it. Her class recently hosted two Fight Fair events in which they asked students to sign letters to Gov. Steve Beshear and local police agencies that highlight the importance of the training.
Student Erin McCarty said it's important to keep spreading the word.
"We need to do our best to make sure as we grow, our community grows too," McCarty said.
Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com